For most of January, the trade request by Tampa Bay Lightning left winger Jonathan Drouin and his recent holdout overshadowed the contract negotiations between the club and captain Steven Stamkos However, recent talk of a rumored offer by the Lightning pushed those negotiations to the forefront.
Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman reports it's believed the Lightning pitched a deal to the Stamkos camp worth $8.5 million annually. Stamkos subsequently told Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times he had no comment about the report, adding his contract discussions will remain strictly between himself and management.
Assuming that offer was the Lightning's opening bid, the club's fans probably shouldn't worry that GM Steve Yzerman is playing hardball. As with most negotiations, the Bolts make a low opening offer. The Stamkos camp likely counters with something much higher, perhaps comparable to the $10.5-million annual cap hits of Chicago Blackhawks stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews. After that, the two sides negotiate toward a more mutually beneficial number.
Drouin, meanwhile, remains the subject of ongoing trade speculation. The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch lists the Anaheim Ducks, Nashville Predators, St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vancouver Canucks, Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens among the potential suitors. Garrioch also claims Yzerman's asking price for the 20-year-old left winger has changed from a roster player to a couple of top prospects.
Friedman's colleague Damien Cox claims the Senators and Lightning had discussions about Drouin. The Sens, however, aren't parting with defenseman Cody Ceci.
One blueliner the Senators could move is the disappointing Jared Cowen, but don't expect Yzerman to give up a prized asset like Drouin for an expensive under-achieving blueliner. Garrioch believes the 25-year-old's actual salary ($4.5 million next season) makes him difficult to move.
Montreal Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin last week publicly stood by embattled coach Michel Therrien and his staff, shouldering the blame for the club's free-fall in the standings. Bergevin also noted the difficulty in trying to acquire some scoring punch for his anemic offense.
That doesn't mean Bergevin stopped trying. Garrioch believes the Habs GM wants to add some size to his forward lines. So far, however, the asking price is young assets.
Center Alex Galchenyuk is attracting interest. Friedman reports a couple of teams made inquiries about the 21-year-old, but were told he's not on the trade block.
Given the Canadiens' plight, Bergevin isn't dealing from a position of strength. His rivals hope he'll succumb to pressure and try to make a big season-saving deal. While Bergevin has a reputation for pulling off surprising moves, he's unwilling to sacrifice his youngsters for a quick fix.
BLUE JACKETS NOT DONE DEALING
The Columbus Blue Jackets surprised the hockey world earlier this month by shipping center Ryan Johansen to the Nashville Predators for defenseman Seth Jones. Ongoing media chatter suggests Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen could make other moves before the trade deadline.
TSN's Bob McKenzie speculates the Jackets' roster restructuring will continue through the trade deadline and into the off-season. Garrioch claims Kekalainen is working the phones seeking a center to replace the departed Johansen.
Recent Jackets' speculation suggests they could move out a couple of veterans with term remaining on their contracts. Left winger Scott Hartnell ($4.75-million annually through 2018-19) and defenseman Fedor Tyutin ($4.5 million through 2017-18) recently surfaced as possible trade candidates.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.)
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